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Java or .NET?

Aiden Pople

It’s one of the biggest questions for software developers… how do Java and .NET compare? Is it even fair to ask which is “better”? And – more to the point – can the two even be compared?

Java and .NET were both created to allow developers to build web applications based on tiers – for example, a client tier, a server tier and a database tier. They both allow for the development and integration of web services, and each features components that facilitate tasks such as dealing with messages, scripting web pages and accessing databases. They are both suited to achieving enterprise application development.

Java is older than .NET, and before .NET was introduced at the turn of the century, it was the dominant programming language. Java is still the foundation for Android apps, but Java is now more than just a language – it’s become a framework that supports the Java language. Java is the default programming language for the Java framework J2EE, whereas .NET supports popular languages such as C# and VB.NET. However, PHP, Ruby and Python run on both.

Java and .NET are both hugely popular, used across large-scale applications. While Java will run on any operating system, .NET is a Microsoft product and is therefore made for Windows. Because Java is platform-independent, based on the idea that the same software should run on a range of systems and computers, this theoretically makes it more portable. This also means that tools and applications for Java are available from a range of producers – high standards of compatibility ensure quality. So, Java developers aren’t tied to one platform or one development environment, but of course this also mean there’s no specific standard tool (Microsoft Visual Studio for .NET).

So how do you choose between Java and .NET? First, consider your existing resources. If your developers and existing tech are geared up to Windows, for example, would it be too costly to move to a Java-friendly platform? Also, what are you building? It is claimed that Java can cope better with applications with large numbers of users, but that .NET can create better graphical user interfaces.

As with most IT issues, research is key: consider your needs and how Java or .NET will best meet them before you choose.

Read our related blog: What’s the difference between C# and .NET?

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